Contrary to their North American neighbors to the west, both Christmas Day and Boxing Day might just possibly be the most important days in the UK for telly watching. Each and every year, both the BBC and ITV1 do not disappoint.
As we wrote last year…and the year before…and the year before that, Christmas and Boxing Day telly in the UK can be a brilliant sight to behold. Each year the stakes seem to elevate with ITV1, yet again, going head to head with the BBC in the race for Christmas Day ratings dominance. In 2011, it was the annual BBC Christmas edition of yuletide cheer and explosive tragedy from Eastenders going head to head with ITV1’s Downton Abbey.
Given the popularity of the Dowager Countess and the Earl of Grantham today, one might think that Downton Abbey would win that battle, hands down. Not so in 2011 as Eastenders easily won the coveted 9p slot with over the air viewer figures of just under 10 million (9.9) viewers while the residents of Downton Abbey pulled in just over 8 million viewers. The highest rated show of the evening on ITV1 was Coronation Street with 9.3 million watching. These are live viewing figures and do not take in to account any delayed or on-demand viewing days later.
This year is no different. Program titles are starting to trickle in with respect to the 2012 Christmas Day schedule with Radio Times beginning their annual look at what’s in store. While the Eastenders holiday special is a given, recent announcements, as of this writing, have the BBC ready to re-establish their dominance with Christmas specials from the likes of Call the Midwife, Miranda, Ripper Street, Royle Family, Doctor Who and QI.
ITV1, besides the traditional Coronation Street holiday special will counter with a strong line-up headed by Downton Abbey and Doors Open, starring Stephen Fry and Primeval’s Douglas Henshall. Let the games begin and, cue Michael Buffer, “…Let’s get ready to rumble“.
So, as always, arrive early, get a good seat in front of the telly on Christmas Day and enjoy. Color the U.S. jealous, yet again, this year.